Press Releases

Availability Rises, Rents Decrease as Market Starts to Shake Off Shutdown Impact

July 22, 2021

New York – Manhattan’s office market showed clear signs of breaking out of the pandemic shutdown during the second quarter of 2021, as leasing activity increased on the strength of several large deals signed. The market is not back to pre-pandemic levels, however, as availability increased and rent rates declined in a quarter of mixed results, according to a new research report from Transwestern Real Estate Services.

During the second quarter, tenants leased 4.4 million square feet of office space, up slightly from 4.3 million square feet in the previous quarter. Approximately a dozen leases were signed exceeding 50,000 square feet in size, including four leases topping 100,000 square feet. Sublease levels, which had grown during the past several quarters, eased considerably.

“The overall uptick in market activity, particularly with the large leases signed during the quarter, is fueling the return of Manhattan’s office market,” said Rory Murphy, Partner at Transwestern. “We are seeing an increased confidence on the part of tenants who want to both leverage current market conditions and secure a long-term strategy in the city.”

Additional highlights from the report include:

  • At 4.4 million square feet, the quarterly leasing total is about half of the five-year pre-pandemic average of 9.4 MSF.
  • Approximately 18.2 MSF were leased during the last four quarters, about 46% below the prior four-quarter tally from third quarter 2019 to second quarter 2020.
  • Availability rose to 18.2%, marking the eighth straight quarter of increases.
  • Sublet availability remained unchanged at 4.7%, representing 25.8% of all availability in Manhattan, which is down from 27.8% last quarter.
  • Manhattan asking rents decreased 1.8% from last quarter to $70.69/SF. The decline is less than what we’ve seen in previous recent quarters.
  • Rents are down 12.6% year-over-year and at their lowest level since 2016.

“The operative term for the quarter, and moving into Q3, appears to be ‘cautious optimism,’” said Corrie Slewett, Research Manager at Transwestern. “Leasing activity is ticking up, availability is still on the increase but leveling off and rent levels continued to decrease but at a slower rate. There’s definitely reason for optimism, though comparisons with historical figures certainly remind one to have caution. The impact of the pandemic and its shutdown are going to have a long tail and, while it’s still too early to say how long it will be, it appears that we are heading in the right direction.”

Download the second quarter 2021 Manhattan office report at

About Transwestern Real Estate Services
Transwestern Real Estate Services (TRS) adds value for investors, owners and occupiers of all commercial property types through a comprehensive perspective and by providing solutions grounded in sound market intelligence. Part of the Transwestern companies, the firm applies a consultative approach to Agency Leasing, Asset Services, Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions, Capital Markets, and Research & Investment Analytics.

The privately held Transwestern companies have been delivering a higher level of personalized service and innovative real estate solutions since 1978. Through an integrated, customized approach that begins with good ideas, the firm drives value for clients across commercial real estate services, development, and investment management. Operating from 33 U.S. offices, Transwestern extends its platform capabilities globally through strategic alliance partners whose unique geographic, cultural, and business expertise fuels creative solutions. Learn more at and @Transwestern.

Media Contact:
Dan Foley

Rory Murphy


New York, New York

(212) 537-7695